Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, South Africa 2016

In May 2016, our group of researchers and students headed to South Africa, and learned how to carry out linguistic fieldwork, conducting their own small research projects in teams, guided by experienced teachers.

This activity was organized in close collaboration with the Academy of Finland-financed project "Stability and Change in Language Contact: The Case of Southern Ndebele (South Africa)" (Eteläafrikkalainen ndebelen kieli: muutos, pysyvyys ja kielikontaktit), with local counterparts in South Africa especially at the Dept of African languages at UNISA (University of South Africa) and CALDi - the Centre for African language diversity.

The more experienced researchers and teachers that took part on the trip were:

  • Lotta Aunio (African studies)
  • Thera Crane (African studies, Ndebele project)
  • Stephan Schulz (African studies, Ndebele project)
  • Riikka Länsisalmi (Japanese Studies)
  • Matti Miestamo (General Linguistics)
  • Riho Grünthal (Finno-Ugric)
  • Axel Fleisch (African studies)

There were 14 students on the trip, so overall 23 participants travelled from Helsinki to South Africa from 8-28 May 2016.

Our five main areas of study during the trip were:

  1. Linguistic Anthropology (and Psycholinguistics)
  2. Morphology and Syntax
  3. Language ideologies and linguistic biographies
  4. Data processing and computation
  5. Phonetics, Phonology, Prosody

The excursion had two main objectives: 1) for the participants to gain substantial expertise as to linguistic fieldwork skills, while 2) making a contribution to the linguistic documentation and analysis of the target languages and their sociolinguistic situation. The first objective was succesfully reached during the trip, and the second realized in 2019 when our research findings were published as a thematic article volume in the series Studia Orientalia.

A travel plan can be found here. Thematic travel reports (in Finnish, but including lots of pictures) from during the trip can be found in our travel blog